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Family Can Be Complicated: Bathsheba’s Story

August 17, 2019

We came across this Mama Moose on Bierstadt Lake last August. The more time we spend with our beautiful neighbors the more we find ourselves being protective of them. Sadly, too many of our visitors either don’t take the time to learn about the wildlife or the Park or they just don’t care. I wish someone had been that protective of Bathsheba. Her story is yet another one of the troubling parts of the story told in Scripture.

Surprisingly, for some reason, she isn’t named outright in the Genealogy of Jesus. Matthew simply calls her the wife of Uriah. If we turn to the story in 2 Samuel 11 and 12, we see the story unfold. It hasn’t been easy sitting with her this week. Her story disturbs me on so many levels and my heart breaks for her. When I told a Seminary Classmate and Colleague in Ministry that I was preaching on this particular story, she commented… #MeToo Movement meets King David, more on MSNBC…

Yes, that is a significant part of my uncomfortableness with her story. It is especially difficult in light of the fact that I have walked with too many rape victims during my ministry, especially in the Military. What is also appalling is some of the commentary from mostly White-Male Commentators who either imply or outright say that Bathsheba somehow deserved what happened or that she seduced David!

As I see it, we need to sit with Bathsheba in this difficult story and listen to her. I am thankful that even though Matthew didn’t name her that history and 2 Samuel did give her back her name. So now, let’s listen to Bathsheba’s story.

She was married to Uriah the Hittite who was one of King David’s trusted warriors. As a Hittite, Uriah was one of the hired mercenaries of the King. He was an alien and an outsider. She too was an alien and outsider. David is out on the rooftop after his late afternoon nap and sees Bathsheba bathing. Intrigued (read aroused), David sends one of his servants to find out who she was.

When he finds out that she is the wife of one of his trusted soldiers, he orders her to come to the palace. There are multiple problems with this scenario. First of all, the mighty Warrior King is back home instead of leading his army into battle. Secondly, he lusts after the wife of one of his soldiers. Thirdly, he sends messengers to bring her to the palace. It wasn’t a polite invitation to tea either!

What choice did Bathsheba have? The King ordered her to come to the palace. Her husband is a servant of the King in his army. They are both outsiders and live in Jerusalem only because Uriah was useful as a soldier.

Remember as well that Bathsheba was a foreigner and a woman. She had no rights on her own. In fact, as David later showed by his actions, she was considered a man’s property. In that light, when the King makes his intentions crystal clear, she has no options other than to submit. If she resisted, she would likely be killed along with her husband. In today’s language, she was being coerced and intimidated by someone in a position of power and authority over her (and her husband). David was using his power and privilege to get what he wanted without any regard for Bathsheba or Uriah! As Ecclesiastes said, there is nothing new under the sun. This could easily be a headline on the news today.

So David has his way and Bathsheba becomes pregnant. Seeking to cover for himself, he orders Uriah home from the front lines. After asking how the battle was faring, he sent Uriah home to sleep in his own bed and with his wife.

Unlike his King, Uriah actually showed that he was a man of honor and a true leader. He refused to go to his house and sleep with his wife. Why? Because the rest of the army was in the field and it wouldn’t be right for him to seek comforts while the rest of his fellow warriors and their leaders didn’t have the same opportunity.

David’s plan was foiled and so he took a desperate and purely evil step. He ordered Uriah’s death! With that murder out of the way, David could conquer the widow of Uriah and take her into his harem!

Bathsheba, what torment you must have felt as the events unfolded. You were coerced, raped, and humiliated by the King. Nobody was there to stick up for you or defend you. You yourself had no power in the face of this King! As if that wasn’t bad enough, he has your honorable husband murdered because he refused to enjoy the comforts of his home and wife while his compatriots were still in the battlefield. Your husband was murdered for being a man of honor by the same man who has raped you.

Bathsheba, you were used and abused. You lost your husband. You lost your future with him. You must have felt so alone. I wonder how you managed to live on after this experience. You would bear more children with your rapist. You would watch your children make their own way in the difficult family that was the House of David.

Her story is horrific to say the least. Yet somehow you overcame such horrors. Why are you in Jesus’s Genealogy? You were an outsider in many ways. You were abused by those in power. You were beaten down by the ruling elite. You are exactly the one whom your descendant would come to speak out for. You are exactly the one whom Jesus defended against the powerful and privileged elite who cared only for themselves and not for the ones they were supposed to serve.

You tell us to care for and defend the powerless against the Empire and it’s minions with their self-serving greed and attitude. You remind me who I have been called to support, encourage, equip, and serve. Not Kings and Empires, but the powerless and the oppressed.

  1. Thank you for telling Bathsheba’s story with compassion and understanding. She continues to need defenders and people to speak the truth to power.

    • The feedback (including two Presbyterian ministers who were in worship) was incredible. The sermon itself is about to be put on the Blog.

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